Look At The Moon

November 08, 2014



Look At The Moon

October 31, 2013Posted in: This & That

Often a symbol of beauty and romance in the west, the moon is considered to be sacred in Hindu religion.




The waxing and waning of the moon, apart from its scientific importance, decides the occurrence of festivals in the Hindu calendar and as a result, our holidays too!

Unlike Islam, where the sighting of the new moon results in the celebration of Eid twice a year, one festival is closely followed by another in Hinduism as per the movement of the moon.

The lunar days are called tithis and every month has 30 tithis. A paksha or side has 15tithis that are calculated by a 12 degree motion of the moon. While the run up to thePurnima or full moon night is called Shukla paksha, the gradual darkening of the moon is referred to as Krishna paksha. Each paksha has a total of 15 tithis or days in them.




Diwali, one of the most joyously celebrated festivals in India, isn’t a one day exclusive affair. Celebrated on an amavasya night, it’s a 5 day long extravaganza which begins withDhanterasDhan meaning wealth and teras meaning the 13th day or trayodashi of the lunar calendar combine to form Dhanteras or Dhanvantari Trayodashi, which is celebrated 2 days before Diwali.

Lord Kubera along with Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day. This day is considered to be highly auspicious to purchase any kind of metal, which is why we witness a surge in the sale of gold during this period.




Dhanteras if followed by Choti Diwali or Narak Chaturdashi which is also known as “Bali Pratipada“. The word “Pratipada” literally means “below the opponent’s foot”. According to a myth Bali was an immensely powerful king. When God felt that King Bali was becoming too powerful, Vishnu, disguised himself as a sage of diminutive proportions, and appeared in his


court. Bali offered to fulfill any of the sage’s wishes to which the sage asked for all the land he could cover in 3 paces. King Bali agreed immediately. Vishnu then assumed a gigantic form and claimed the world (Mrityuloka), and the heaven (Swargloka) in two steps. To keep his foot down the 3rd time, he asked for King Bali’s head. Bali agreed. Thus, the reign of Bali was overthrown. Narakasur’s mother Bhudevideclared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Since then, Diwali is being celebrated by people every year with joyous with lots of fun.



Diwali literally means a row of lamps. More than a festival of lights, in essence, it is a festival to make oneself aware of his or her inner light. Earthen diyas are filled with ghee and lit up to form a stark contrast against the moon-less night. It is celebrated at the end of the harvest season and Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings are sought to ensure a good year ahead.





The day after Diwali is celebrated as Govardhan puja or annakut. People throng temples and the deities are given milk baths as if being bathed in moonlight.

The last and final day is celebrated as Bhai doojDooj meaning 2nd refers to the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the Hindu month of Kartika. This is a festival that upholds the duty of a brother to protect his sister and a sister’s right to shower her brother with love and blessings. For women who do not have a brother, it is common practice to worship the Moon god instead. The sister, whose brother lives far away from her and cannot come to her house, sends her sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother through the moon god. She performs aarti for the moon. This is the reason why children of Hindu parents affectionately call the moon Chandamama!




Apart from these festivals, there a number of other celebrations that are centred around the sighting or non-sighting of the moon. The Shivratri, Holi, Buddha Purnima, Guru Purnima, Karvachauth and many lesser known festivals owe their significance to the Moon god. It’s amazing how even in the absence of scientific tools, our predecessors did the precise mathematical calculations to arrive at specific dates.



Next time, you spot the moon playing peek-a-boo or decide to find your beloved’s face in it, don’t just admire its beauty; admire its significance too!




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